The Swiss Government has chosen Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Lightning II as its next-generation fighter jet, the government said on Wednesday. The US$5.5 billion deal adds a 15th nation to the world’s largest weapons project — a family of interconnected, single-engine jets to be used by the United States and its allies. It came alongside a $2.1 billion agreement to buy the Patriot surface-to-air missile system from US group Raytheon, with European competitors losing out on both deals. Swiss picks F-35, angering opponents who have pledged a new referendum to overturn what they dubbed an unnecessary “Ferrari” option.
In June 2021, the Swiss government decided to propose to Parliament to buy 36 F-35As for $5.4 billion. The Swiss anti-military group GSoA, supported by the Greens and Social Democrats, intends to contest the purchase through a people’s initiative that would constitutionally prohibit the deal. On 29 November 2021, Switzerland signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to purchase 36 F-35As. The aircraft beat bids from Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Rafale from France’s Dassault and the four-nation Eurofighter built by Germany- and Spain-backed Airbus, Italy’s Leonardo and Britain’s BAE Systems.
Defence Minister Viola Amherd said the F-35As were chosen after being the most impressive performer in an evaluation and offered best value for money. The Swiss government would not have bought a Ferrari if a VW would do and the Ferrari would be three times more expensive. Total costs of 15.5 billion francs came in 2 billion cheaper than the next lowest bidder, the government said, based on buying and operating the aircraft over 30 years. The Swiss parliament now has to approve the funding for the purchase, with the debate scheduled for early next year. It can debate costs and terms but not revisit the model selection.
The Swiss Government picked the Patriot missile system over Franco-Italian group Eurosam. Switzerland requested to buy five (5) Patriot Configuration-3+ Modernized Fire Units, and intends to purchase Patriot as part of the Swiss air defense solution for the “Air 2030” program. Swiss Air Force is set to become the 18th nation to choose Patriot as the backbone of their air defense. The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the primary of its kind used by the U.S. Army and several allied nations. The AN/MPQ-53 at the heart of the system is known as the “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target” which is a backronym for PATRIOT.